No one is sure of exactly what the future of transportation will look like but if current patent grants from the major automobile companies are any indication it will not be boring.
Researchers for the auto industry over the last decade have been empowered to use their imagination and computing tools as never before to come up with new and better ideas for safety, convenience and eco-friendliness.
Few of the the many patents filed by auto and other businesses are likely to make it into actual products. However, they do reflect the imagination of innovative and dedicated engineers who are re-inventing automotive transportation as we know it.
One invention is BMW’s ‘Unmanned aerial vehicle, method and system for providing cleaning service for vehicle.’ It is designed to allow owners to wash their vehicles using an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Another vision of the future as seen by vehicular engineers is Ford’s rather literal interpretation of the mobile office (above),‘Vehicle with round passenger compartment.’ The patent suggests a cylindrical passenger compartment with a round table and chairs for meetings on-the-go.
Google and Waymo have a patent to mitigate the impact of pedestrian collisions by having the colliding object (or person) puncture an adhesive layer on the hood. The patent is titled, ‘Adhesive vehicle front end for mitigation of secondary pedestrian impact.’
The Most Active Filers
The following list provides an idea of the patent filing by company. Toyota and Ford are significantly ahead of the competition in terms of sheer numbers. Hyundai is number three on the U.S. grant list for auto manufacturers, well ahead of GM.
The data source is the 2019 ‘Patent 300’ report (USPTO-issued patents) as compiled by Harrity and conveyed by vanarama.com.
Notably absent from the list is China-owned Volvo, which has been innovating in the EV market. In September 2020 the Volvo Group’s ‘most-patented’ employee, Anders Eriksson, reached 100 grants, a milestone achieved by few inventors.
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Image source: gearpatrol.com; vanarama.com